You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. Jack London

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Log-Line, splain it to me in 25 words or less

                                                        photo from findstuff22


Composing a sentence in 25 words or less is a great way to procrastinate writing your novel. It certainly has helped me put off writing more than ten times.

Let’s try and analyze this. A log-line, elevator pitch, and premise are all names given to this most difficult string of words I’ve tried to write.

Describe your story in twenty-five words or less. Huh?

First we must understand this sentence consists of the hero, the antagonist, both preceded by adjectives, and a conflict that your hero finds himself in. 

You could compose this sentence before you start writing, and it would be the premise of your story. Using what if? What if a short teen has to battle a tall man over who has the most guts? Bad example, but still. Are they actually battling about bloody innards or do they both have a need to be braver than the other? The writer knows, but what if the reader doesn’t. The reader plops down a twenty to purchase thinking it is about a contest to win a trophy when in actuality really is about bloody guts. However, if it’s your premise, than you are the only one who has to understand the sentence.

The thing is the only time you will really need to use this sentence is at a live conference. In case you run into an agent in an elevator or bathroom stall. Perhaps during a scheduled meeting with an actual agent, you will want to be able to state what your story is about with eloquence.

But, if you’re like me, you’re never going to meet an agent or editor in person. So quit procrastinating and just write. If you don’t believe me, click on Ms. Reid’s Query Shark and read what she has to say about a log-line in a query letter. Scroll down the page, she made me say ahhh.

Besides that log-line is only what the outer perimeter of your story is about. What your story is really about is the character arc of your hero. But that’s another post. 

So, here's my latest:

When her guardian is abducted by a vengeful ghost, a psychic teen must escape from Social Services and battle the evil presence, her father.

Yeah, I know. It sucks.





















Monday, May 7, 2012

Story Structure and Misnomers?



     The pic above are books I own on the craft. Of course, I also have some on my Nook:
The Writer's Compass by Nancy Ellen Dodd
Write Great Fiction by James Scott Bell
Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland
Screenwriting Tricks for Authors by Alexandra Sokoloff

...and several others. But these are the ones on structure.
     Must be many writer's stories lack structure with all the blogs I've read recently seem to be talking about it. Larry Brooks blog is about his seven competencies you need to write, although it seems structure is a big part of it. In the next few weeks he's going to break down Hunger Games for us. K. M. Weiland has just finished a series on structure on her blog Wordplay. It's a great series, I recommend reading it.
     Some instruct us referring to the three acts, others call it the beginning, middle and end. Some even divide the middle into two parts. Probably because the middle is the longest and everyone seems to agree on that. Then there's terminology, hook, inciting incident, point of no return, rising action, mid-point, climax, and denouement. To name a few. Some refer to the hook as the inciting incident. The inciting incident could be the point of no return, which means you need a hook at the beginning to keep readers reading. So the hook and the inciting incident must be separate and not the same. Its a wonder most of us would like to throw it all out the window.
     John Truby talks about 22 steps. He thinks the three act structure is too simplistic, albeit easy to understand. Three acts, in his opinion, will make your story boring and have no depth.
     I'm not saying not to educate oneself by reading any of these fine specimens. Just keep an open mind. Try not to get too hung up on terminology. And when you're ready to dive into that tray of cupcakes, write. Because the only way any of us is going to learn is to write. So here's a link to Joe Bunting at the Write Practice because that's what his blog is all about.